Does academic success translate to career success?

Posted on Posted in academics, application of knowledge, communication, interpersonal, leadership, Learning, learning by rote, lifeskills, success

Academic achievement

Many people vouch for a high correlation between career and academic success and quote examples of alumni of IIT / IIM / Ivy League excelling in their careers. The opponents of this school of thought quote examples of great business leaders who dropped out and did wonders or people with below average academics who have been successful. In all walks of life, you see people with great academic qualifications doing well, and people not having any “fancy degrees” doing well.

We all want our children to be successful? So, how much should we emphasize on our children’s academic success?

There are multiple considerations to promote “Success in Life” among our children.

A. Definition of Success: In academics, it is relatively easy to define success (typically through ranks, marks, scholarships & awards). Whereas, in real life the definition of success is neither uniform nor objective and is different for different people. For this article, we will define a successful person as a person who achieves a goal he sets out to achieve.

B. Irrespective of the path you choose, to be successful in achieving your goal depends on the following factors

  1. Goal setting/Focus towards your goal
  2. Determination & Persistence
  3. Discipline
  4. Communication Skills
  5. Analytical Skills
  6. Leadership/Interpersonal Skills

There also are some extraneous factors like timing & situation but here, we will discuss what is in one’s control.

So how do academics develop the above factors

  1. In academics, a person can set a goal he wants to achieve. In addition, some qualities like determination, persistence and discipline are needed to achieve academic success like ranks and marks.
  2. Academics builds the foundation for communication and analytical skills, if the students are taught to apply subjects like English, Hindi and Mathematics and can translate language subject proficiency to communication skills and mathematics to analytical skills. The moment a student does not apply his knowledge, but learns by rote and answers by relying on memory, the correlation ends and the person may get good marks but may not achieve success. He or she will later be labeled as “theoretical” or “bookish” with no practical sense.
  3. Academics provide a lot of opportunities for group projects where skills like creativity, interpersonal skills and leadership can be developed.

Based on the above three points, it is fair to assume that while academic success may or may not cause success in life, there is a high correlation between academic success and success in life, if the academic success has been achieved by application of knowledge and not just by rote.

On the other hand, many people do not do well in academics because their passion and interests lie somewhere else. It could be in music, sports or anything else. As long as they can set a goal, focus on that with determination & persistence they are likely to be successful in the field of their choice. The moment such people find what they are passionate about and have aptitude for, is the turning point in their life. Along this journey if they develop leadership and interpersonal skills their probability of success also becomes very high.

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